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How to Recognize and Prevent Poison Ivy/Oak/Summac Rash and Irritations/Best Treatments

Updated on September 12, 2015

Poison Ivy/Oak Allerigies

I am very allergic to poison ivy and poison oak to the point that I have had to start steroid therapy to stop the allergic response in my body. Recently my daughter had a rash on her wrist and sent me a quick picture. Immediately I knew it was poison Ivy exposure. I then showed her the best way to care for her arm and how to prevent future outbreaks.

Exposure to these offenders can go so far as to spreading all over your body making it almost impossible to sleep or work.

Learn to Recognize Common Poisonous Plants

Poison ivy  Notice shiny leaves and red stems
Poison ivy Notice shiny leaves and red stems | Source
Poison Ivy Plant
Poison Ivy Plant

Poison Ivy Plants. Notice the vine

Poison Oak
Poison Oak | Source
poison Sumac
poison Sumac | Source

How the Reaction to your Skin Gets Started

Urushiol oil is what causes an allergic reaction when absorbed into your skin.This is an oily sap made by poison ivy, sumac and oak. If you think you have been exposed the best thing to do is wash well with clear water and then soap and water. Scrubbing too hard can actually breakdown the oil and your skin integrity and cause a reaction. Be sure to wash all the clothes that may have come in contact with the plant also. You need to use a soap that remove oils. Some in the US include Octagon,Joy or Dawn Dish Detergent, Pine Tar, Fels Naptha from the grocery store, Zanfel poison ivy soap from pharmacy and Technu Ivy Scrub mentioned below.

You may not react the first time you are exposed to urushiol but your body sees the oil as an offender and alerts your immune system so that the next time you are exposed it will send out antibodies that will trigger a reaction with each successive exposure. The rash can progress into pustules and can become very red and angry looking.

Technu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub is a good cream to use to wash off the offended area. Cortisone creams and Ivarest cream are all aides to relieve the itching and dry the area. Band-Aid also makes an anti-itch cream with menthol to sooth the itching.

I have often had to us Triamcinolone Acetone Cream prescription cream to heal my reaction. It is a topical corticosteroid that aids in the inflammation and itching associated with a poison plant reaction.

If itching is severe an antihistamine like Benadryl can be helpful.

I shared these with my daughter and her rash was cleared up within a week.

A reaction can take several hours to days to appear as has been the case with me. Often I will think I have a small exposure and as the day goes on I begin to break out in other areas.

To Some it Up

Once you realize you are exposed it is important to wash the oil of asap, apply a healing cream, drink plenty of fluids, take antihistamine for itching and wash all clothing that may have com in contact with the oil.You will need a soap that removes oils. Your body will naturally heal within 7 to 10 days. See the doctor if your exposure was severe.

You are not contagious once you have washed all oils off your body.

Use After Exposure to Poisonous Weeds

Mean Green Power Hand Scrub (16 oz Jar)
Mean Green Power Hand Scrub (16 oz Jar)

Removes oil from Poisonous plants


A Poison Ivy Rash

A poison Ivy Rash  Notice the common linear pattern to the rash.
A poison Ivy Rash Notice the common linear pattern to the rash. | Source
Rash after giving a dog a rub down, Obviously the dog had been in a poisonous plant area.
Rash after giving a dog a rub down, Obviously the dog had been in a poisonous plant area. | Source
Poison Ivy on the face. His eye is infected and medical attention is needed.
Poison Ivy on the face. His eye is infected and medical attention is needed. | Source

A Word of Caution

There are a few of us that are so allergic to urushiol we react in 2 to 4 hours instead of the normal time and then breakout in an ugly rash with eyes swelling shut. These people should seek medical treatment quickly or if you are still breaking out after 7 days or the rash is near your face or genitals.

Burning poisonous plants can actually cause a release of the poison into the air and cause it to enter the lungs. A dead plant can have the oil for several years as well as clothes and shoes that have come in contact with it.

Don't be afraid to contact your physician . I have heard horror stories about prednisone. Having had to be on it several different times, i can assure you i have had no awful side effects except for more energy and who hates that. It is the long term use of steroids that are bad.

New Information

Since I first wrote this article I have learned that Zanfel and Mean Green both remove the oils that cause the allergic reaction. I plant on giving them a try and will update at a later date.

What poison Ivy looks like

Survey of Poison Ivy Victims

Have you ever had a reaction to poison ivy,sumac or oak plants?

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How to get rid of Poison Ivy

The safest way to remove poison ivy from your home is with Brush B Gone or Round up. You can use home remedies but if you can hit these right at the plant you have to use very little.


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